Henry Kuttner was the author of many sci-fi and fantasy short stories in The Thirties
, and Fifties
He was one of the "Lovecraft
Circle", and contributed a number of elements to the Cthulhu Mythos
Kuttner liked the writing of fellow science-fiction writer C. L. Moore, so a mutual acquaintance, H. P. Lovecraft, gave him Moore's address. Lovecraft failed to mention that 'C. L.' stood for 'Catherine Lucille', so Kuttner addressed his fan letter to 'Mr. C. L. Moore'. Even so, Kuttner and Moore fell in love and eventually married, frequently working as a Creator Couple
Among his works are the comedic Galloway Gallegher stories, which concern an inventor who reaches unimaginable heights of genius while drunk, which invariably causes trouble when he wakes up the day after with a hangover and no idea what his latest creation is supposed to do.
Tropes that appear in Kuttner's works include:
- After the End: The Black Sun Rises is set in the dark age following a nuclear war.
- The Alcoholic: Gallegher has a severe and probably hereditary drinking problem, which the stories play for comedy.
- Alternative Number System: In "The Iron Standard", the six-fingered Venusians use base-12.
- Asshole Victim: Virtually all the characters in Kuttner's comedy stories are completely self-interested and come to some misfortune, sometimes consequently but also sometimes merely subsequently. See also Sadist Show below.
- The setting of the Elak of Atlantis sword-and-sorcery tales.
- Part of the backstory of the Hogben Family series, with the patriarch of the family supposedly being a survivor from Atlantis.
- Bizarre Baby Boom:
- The 1953 novel Mutant has the "baldies", bald telepathic humans who were born after a nuclear war and subsequent fallout.
- A story called "Absalom" where more and more smarter and smarter children are born every generation. There is a problem with the older generations being envious and afraid.
- Brown Note: In "Nothing But Gingerbread Left", a semantics professor develops a German-language ditty so catchy that a person hearing it will be able to do nothing but think about it. It is broadcast in occupied Europe as weapon against the Nazis.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Satirized in Don't Look Now
- Dark World: The setting of the novel The Dark World, an alternate version of Earth which has drifted into a fantasy world, although the magic is given a scientific explanation.
- Deal with the Devil: "By These Presents"
- Death by Irony: Vanning in "Time Locker"
- Drunken Master: Gallegher's genius is activated only when drunk.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: MacDuff in The Voice of the Lobster
- Genetic Memory: In The Mask of Circe, a 20th-century descendant of the mythic hero Jason gains his ancestor's memories.
- Ignore The Disability: Discussed in "Nothing But Gingerbread Left".
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Gallegher in "Time Locker", when he realizes that Vanning had reached into the future and crushed himself.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Furies are programmed to enforce this in Two-Handed Engine.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: "The Iron Standard"
- Off with His Head!: Done posthumously by the headhunters in Home Is the Hunter.
- Physical God: Horrifyingly, one of the main characters in "Ex Machina" is revealed to be a de facto god.
- Robotic Psychopath: Although he's frequently likened to Narcissus and is definitely autosexual (in the sense of being sexually attracted to oneself), Gallegher's robot Joe also seems to legitimately have narcissistic personality disorder. The extent of his autocracy extends far beyond Second Law My Ass.
- Sadist Show: The default tactic of Kuttner's comedy stories is to make the protagonist suffer and suffer without surcease.
- Society Marches On: The distant future that Gallegher inhabits is distinctly similar to 1940s urban America.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Gallegher's robot Joe possesses a wide variety of amazing functions that are all completely incidental to the robot's primary function. Played for laughs.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Get knocked for a loop by "Nothing But Gingerbread Left".
- Was Once a Man: Gnomes in A Gnome There Was
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The neo-Viking leader in The Black Sun Rises started out this way.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: The driving force of the Gallegher stories.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A theme in "Camouflage", which features a cyborg implanted into a starship as its central character.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "The Iron Standard", a spaceship crew is starving on Venus because gold and silver are too common there, the society is too conservative to buy any of their devices, and the main medium of exchange is iron, which they only have as alloys.
- Zeerust: Inevitable.